Hexapods of New York City: part 2

In this series our taxonomist, Andrew Ernst, highlights some of the arthropods we find in samples from New York and elsewhere.

One of our recent projects has taken us to New York City to sample ground dwelling arthropods in parks and street medians. As we began to sort our samples, we came across some of the non-insect hexapod orders. We’ve identified all three of the non-insect hexapod orders in our samples. Our last post

Japygidae, most of the body is soft and pale with the pincer-like cerci dark and hardened. Photo: A. Ernst, NCSU.

Japygidae, most of the body is soft and pale with the pincer-like cerci dark and hardened. Photo: A. Ernst, NCSU.

discussed the order Collembola. This time we’ll introduce you to the next order of hexapods we came across, Diplura. While diplurans aren’t as common as collembolans, they can be found in moist soils around the world. In fact some of them eat collembolans!

There are two common families of diplurans; Campodeidae and Japygidae. They are pale and elongate with long threadlike antennae and prominent cerci. One cool thing about diplurans is that they do not have eyes. Since they live in soils, under rocks and in fallen logs, where it is typically dark they must not need them.  They are also very tiny ranging from 1-5mm.

Campodeidae is the largest family of diplurans, They have many segmented cerci that are roughly as long as the antennae. Campodeids feed on soil fungi, detritus and small soil arthropods such as mites and Collembola. A few species are herbivorous.

Japygidae differs from Campodeidae by having short, stout, pincer-like cerci. These pitchers could lead people to confuse them with dermapterans (earwigs) but dermapterans are much bigger and most people never see diplurans. Japygids use their pincer-like cerci to capture their small arthropod prey.

You can find these right now if you go out and roll over some logs or dig around in the moist soil under those leaves you need to rake.

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